Noor Salman, the wife of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, appeared in Orlando federal court Thursday as her lawyers try to get statements she made to law enforcement thrown out of her upcoming trial.
- READ IT: Full court order denying change of venue for Noor Salman's trial (PDF)
Her attorneys say the statements made to FBI agents and other law enforcement officials in the hours after the 2016 mass shooting should be tossed because at the time, she wasn’t under arrest.
The crucial hearing will determine what can be used at her trial over charges that she aided and abetted Mateen, who perpetrated the Pulse nightclub massacre that killed 49 people.
In court, several FBI agents and law enforcement officers from Mateen's hometown of Fort Pierce took the stand to talk about Salman and her demeanor following the attack.
FBI agent Christopher Mayo testified that in the early morning hours of June 11 — before officers told her what happened — Salman was offering information about her husband, saying he wouldn't hurt anyone.
Salman said after the shooting that Mateen "liked everybody, even homosexuals," Mayo testified.
When she voluntarily went with the FBI to their headquarters in Fort Pierce for further questioning, agents said Salman said, "God rest his soul," and then paused and said, "God bless his soul."
Those statements raised suspicion with authorities that Salman may have known more about her husband's plans than she was letting on.
But her attorneys disagreed. They claim that Salman, surprised to be approached by police in the early morning hours, was shocked when she was told her husband was a killer and was himself dead.
In court, Salman appeared to be emotional as she listened to voice recordings of Mateen. They are the last recordings of Mateen's thoughts and state of mind before he was killed by law enforcement. In them, he can be heard pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and asking the U.S. to stop airstrikes on Syria and Iraq.
Salman frequently moved around in her seat as law enforcement body-camera footage showed the chaos in the club that night. She looked away from a screen as photos were shown of the body of her dead husband — wearing a plaid shirt and khakis — being examined by a bomb-detecting robot.
The U.S. Attorney's Office say those images were crucial to explaining why they held Salman for questioning without arresting her. At the time, prosecutors say, first responders thought Mateen had bombs and weren't sure who, if anyone, he was working with.
FBI polygraph expert Ricardo Enriquez testified that Salman's statements were inconsistent. He said she admitted to knowing more about Mateen's plans to attack the club. She also signed a statement saying, “I’m sorry I lied to the FBI... these are my words,” Enriquez said.
Some of the audio recordings that were heard featured Mateen pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, asking Brennan to stop U.S. airstrikes on Syria and Iraq.
Salman faces charges of aiding and abetting her husband in his attempt to provide material support to the Islamic State terrorist organization and of obstruction of justice.
Second day of hearing testimony begins at 9 a.m. Friday.